Fourth to first as Elfyn Evans wins Rally Turkey 2020

Driver Elfyn Evans soared from fourth to take first place at Rally Turkey 2020, helping TOYOTA GAZOO Racing exert a nine-point lead at the top of the World Rally Championship (WRC).

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Meant to be

You could argue it was meant to be for the Welshman after he became the only front-running driver to escape from the 38.1km Çetibeli speed test with his car intact, while his competitors were plagued with punctures and mechanical issues. In particular, championship leader Sébastien Ogier was forced to retire with engine problems. He remained on course for a podium until he stopped in the second pass through the stage with smoke pouring from the engine bay of his Yaris. The incident allowed Evans to propel himself back to the top of the Driver’s Championship, opening up an individual 18-point series lead.

Overnight leader Thierry Neuville finished second in a Hyundai i20, 24.2 seconds clear of teammate Sébastien Loeb, after a final day that few will ever forget. .

Tough terrain

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Set in the Aegean province of Muğla on the southern coast, Rally Turkey is one of the most challenging terrains in the WRC calendar, with the track covering gravel roads and dusty terrain. In this year’s hot weather, the tricky race surface made the event even more challenging for drivers, creating one of the slowest and roughest events of the World Rally Championship.

Racers were grateful, then, that this year’s rally was a day shorter than usual, contested over twelve special stages and a competitive distance of 223km, 87km less than in 2019.

Evans began the final day in fourth place, navigating his Toyota Yaris across a challenging rocky stretch that marked the opening speed test. He took a cautious approach to the race, focused on keeping his car intact for the duration and celebrating as high a finish as possible. It was an approach that paid off as his competitors succumbed one by one to a series of issues.

Ogier was stopped by smoke, with the six-time champion forced to retire, and Neuville and Loeb saw their hopes ended when they each punctured, losing 1 minute 45 and 1 minute 20 respectively. That left Evans and TOYOTA GAZOO to proceed to first on the podium.

Third career victory

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In the end Evans and co-driver Scott Martin finished with a total time of, 35 seconds ahead of Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsouly. It was a third career victory in the sport’s premier series for Evans and the second of his debut season with the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team.

Next, the Championships move on to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia for the sixth and penultimate round. Rally Italia Sardegna takes place in Alghero on 8 - 11 October, with TOYOTA GAZOO ready to build on their nine-point series lead.